A special campaign is needed to protect Goans from drug trade
THE number of Goans held for drug trafficking reached an all-time high in the year 2019. According to the figures released by the state police, 76 Goans were among 243 people arrested for involvement in drug trade during the year. The number of Goans held in drug trade has reached 31 percent as compared to 27 percent in 2018 and 23 percent in 2017. The number has been rising since the crackdown on drug traffickers in 2017. While the number of Goans increased, those of people from the other parts of the country came down to 107 in the last year from 123 in 2018. The growing number of Goans in drug trade should worry the Goa government and the Goan society. There is no point in shutting our eyes to the problem that is becoming more and more complex. The government can no more play indifferent by saying no Goans are involved in the drug trade on the commercial scale. Involvement in selling even a miniscule amount of drugs means involvement. There is no way anyone selling drugs in small quantities can be set apart from those selling them in large quantities.
The increasing number of Goans involved in drug trafficking is a dangerous trend as their supplies could be sourced for consumption more by locals than by visitors to the state. This could mean more drug addicts in the state who could become social and legal problems in the long run. In case drug addiction among the state population increases, Goa could see social unrest with an entire generation or two being lost to the drug monster. Drug business is growing. The quantity of drugs seized during the raids in 2019 and their worth have shown an increase. According to the police, drugs worth Rs 6.38 crore were seized in 2019 as compared to Rs 2.96 crore in 2018 and Rs 2.91 crore in 2017. The state has also witnessed deaths due to alleged drug abuse. The problem is going to get out of control if the government does not act firmly. Given the larger number of arrests and seizures made over the last three years it is certain that drug trade is thriving in Goa. There are reports of people living in hinterland areas too turning drug addicts.
The state authorities cannot pretend to be naïve in dealing with a serious issue like drug trade and come out with excuses to protect those involved in trade, whether small or big, whether politically connected or not connected. As punishment for dealing in drugs in commercial quantity is too harsh those involved in the trade carry only the least possible amount of drugs to hoodwink the law enforcement agencies as that can help them escape with lighter punishment. The government cannot ignore the fact that those caught with lesser quantities of drugs have been or could be caught for repeat offences after their release. The state should amend the rules to provide for stiffer penalties to root out the drug menace from Goa and save future generations. Going soft on drug peddlers, whether locals or outsiders, would be detrimental to cause of Goans as easy availability of drugs would lead to higher consumption of drugs, posing a serious threat to Goan society.
It is the lack of a strong campaign that has allowed Goa to become a drug haven. Drugs are widely available and consumed in the state and the demand has been growing. Despite police crackdown over the last three years the drug trade has thrived as can be assumed from larger amounts of drugs seized and more people nabbed for drug trafficking. Given the secretive nature of trade, it is widely believed that only a few people get caught and most get away. Regular seizure of small quantities of drugs should not be considered enough. Even in these cases the enforcement authorities manage to arrest men with small quantities. The enforcement authorities must track down the kingpins in local trade and cut off the supply chain. Unless the main persons are caught, the drug trade will go on growing in volumes. The state government has to employ police and civil society to launch a special campaign to wean away Goans from drug trade.